beamer – and then I just got used to it.
I wrote and edited a couple of theses in Word (up to 200 pages), with dozens of figures and tables, hundreds of references and so on. It was not at all a bad experience. I took the time to really understand Word, its concepts, and also it quirks. I then developed strategies and macro packages to work with them and to automate repeating tasks. In the end it is just the point that you have to know your tool.
I came to LaTeX via LyX during my PhD time. My supervisor used LyX, so I started writing my papers with it. I started to love the easy bibliography handling with
bibtex, however, the first thing that really stroke me was the
listings package: Beautiful typesetting of listings, the ability to refer to line numbers, and automatic syntax highlighting! I could not imagine how to automate this with Word.
Then I had to prepare a lecture with 500+ slides. I never loved Powerpoint, which has, compared to Word nearly no concepts of semantic markup, hierarchical structure, and so on. So I tried
beamer. As my slides tend to be very visual, it was a steep learning curve and I had to abondon LyX, as basically everything ended up to be ERT boxes. So I started with plain LaTeX in VIM. VIM spoiled capability to use any other editor, so I quickly stopped to use LyX for other stuff as well (too many spurious
ighjkls in the middle of the text...).
And as I wrote: I just got used to it.
Today, I love it because of the great "programming capabilities" that let me define powerful problem-related concepts for my projects.